PRESS RELEASE – January 29, 2008
Karachi: In a statement issued to the press Mr. Iqbal Haider, Secretary General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly denounces Musharraf’s impudent comments about a senior journalist.
Mr. Haider said that it’s an outrageous and unpardonable yet another attack on freedom of expression and freedom of press. Parveez Musharraf must offer unconditional apology for having used offensive and abusive language and for inciting the people to beat him up. The accusation of Parveez Musharraf against Mr. Ziauddin that he destroys country’s image outside the country is completely baseless and the undeniable truth is that it is the policies and acts of none other than Parveez Musharraf which are the real cause for causing irreparable harm to our national interest and image of our country.
To accuse a patriot like Ziauddin as an anti-state element is an intolerable attack which further defames our country because this attack is coming from the person who styles himself as the President. In his attempt to abuse and attack Mr. Ziauddin, Mr. Musharraf is only inviting ridicule and condemnation from all democratic, civilized and human right activists not only in Pakistan but also all over the world.
Mr. Haider said that such remarks shows that President Musharraf, after taking unconstitutional and arbitrary actions including the dismissal of 55 senior judges and also resorting to attacks on demonstrations is now attempting to extend his attack also against persons who express their dissent from abroad. The arm of repression that grips the entire democratic and rule of law system within Pakistan is now extending even to people outside.
Mr. Haider said that HRCP reiterates its warnings to the government to restrain from committing such ugly attempts to restrict media freedoms and these attempts can have only the most negative impact, while also proving the government’s claims of guaranteeing free expression are nothing but another among the growing litany of lies routinely told to the people of Pakistan.
HRCP notes that under the present military regime, the right to free expression is coming under severe attack. Despite the claims of leaders regarding media freedoms, a growing number of journalists have faced pressure, often from intelligence agencies or military personnel, in an attempt to coerce them into compliance with the official line. Several are missing, or have been murdered, according to reports from the NWFP. HRCP believes this policy of repression is a part of the dangerous strategy of secrecy, aimed at deluding citizens and international audiences. Silencing independent voices can only add to problems that already exist within the federation.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan